Prayas JAC Society: Prayas Started with 25 children in 1988, today Prayas caters to the needs of 50,000 neglected, street and marginalized children, youth & women in Delhi, Gujarat, Bihar, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Andman & Nicobar islands, Haryana, Jharkhand.

Signature campaign to get Anti Trafficking Bill 2018 passed

(MEDIA COVERAGE - ANTI TRAFFICKING BILL 2018) - CLICK

A signature campaign has been launched by Prayas at its various centres to urge the MPs to get the anti trafficking bill passed in this session. The campaign is on at its Delhi, Bihar and Rajasthan Centres.

It all began with a historic consultation in New Delhi where prominent MPs of Lok Sabha came face to face with 11 victims of trafficking from 9 states of India to hear their horror stories.

The MPs Geetha Kothapalli, Manoj Tiwari & Shatrughan Sinhawere there ata program ‘United Against Trafficking’ organised by Prayas, IWG & HLN Partners and over 30 NGOs to discuss the TIP (Trafficking of Persons- (Prevention, Protection & Rehabilitation) Bill 2018  threadbare as this is the first time such a bill has been introduced in parliament.

Telling their own stories of the hell they have gone through were 9 victims from across the country.

Shatrughan Sinha, the popular actor cum politician and President of Prayas was shocked beyond words saying, “The more I listen to these stories the more my determination to support the Bill. I had read about the Bill but the minute nuances of law have been explained by Mr.Kanth with whom I have had a long association. I am now going to support this Bill vigorously whenever it is introduced.”

Manoj Tiwari MP from Delhi appeared equally dumb found and admitted that most of the MPs did not have sufficient knowledge of the Bills that came before them. “But this session has enriched my knowledge and I will get deep into it and see that it gets passed.”

Kothapalli Geetha MP from Telugu Desam Party who left her cosy job as IAS officer to jump into politics said that she had been deeply involved with issues of women but now her determination had got a new boost.

The stories of survivors related by them would were mind boggling.

For instance there was Suresh Manjhi an agricultural labour who said that he had received only Rs.20,000 as compensation whereas as per law, he is entitled to receive a minimum compensation of Rs. 2,00,000.

“I was released from bonded agricultural labour on October 14, 2014. We have been victims for generations. We had 10 Kattha (One Kattha is standardized to 720 square feet of area) of land which is in possession of the human traffickers. Now, I want this land back and the house that has been built on it transferred to my name. There are no basic facilities, no employment under MNREGA (The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 that guarantees the right to work for at least 100 days),” said Manjhi.

Kalu Devi from Uttar Pradesh, a mother of six girls and five boys is the “Pradhan” or “Head” of her village, but the horrific memories of bondage will haunt her for life and the travails she endured and suffered till 2009 in the mining belt of the area.

She said, “Now, I run a grocery store in my village in UP. I suffered five years of bonded labour. Eighty-seven of us were rescued from bonded labour in 2009. Sixty-four of these 87 have got fixed compensation of Rs.20, 000/- each on a fixed date in bulk from the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) on orders of the Ministry of Labour.”

The case of Satyawati, who was forced into the commercial sex trade at the young age of twelve, is no different.

The law on trafficking is not tough. Enforcers of these crimes are being allowed to escape and continue to enjoy their lives. There is always a delay in the delivery of justice. I am now residing in a juvenile home making jute-based products. I am yet to receive compensation. Such activities only stop when there is a police raid. These raids take place infrequently. So, there is no hope,” she told the audience including three shocked MPs.

Then there was Deva of Tamil Nadu, now a second year engineering student, but who was trafficked to a textile mill owner in Tirupur District at the age of 14.

Naseema of West Bengal’s North 24 Parganna District is among 70 of the 121 survivors of human trafficking who have formed an anti-trafficking body called Utthan.

“A major problem is that most of us are trafficked to other states from our home state. In my case, I was trafficked from Kolkata and sent to Mumbai. After being rescued, I experienced the horror of stigmatization from neighbours on my return home.

Our government should also have a provision for video conferencing of depositions between states so that we victims are not made to run from pillar to post. Compensation should also be provided to us immediately,” she said.

There are other cases such as Anita of Chhattisgarh, who was trafficked to a brick kiln owner in Odisha’s Bhadrak District and was eventually rescued by Jan Jagriti, an NGO. Surya of Tamil Nadu was trafficked for Rs. 5000 at the age of 14. Lalita was trafficked for a paltry Rs. 25, 000 from Sajjapur in Madhya Pradesh to Pune in Maharashtra.

A power loom worker from Tamil Nadu, said he was deprived of a kidney in Sri Lanka on the promise of receiving Rupees seven-and-a-half lakhs. He said that he received only Rs.2, 00, 000 and claimed he was threatened by the district collector of Namakkal District for not withdrawing his case.

Having been deeply involved in the making of this law I would like to state that this Bill promises to make our Constitutional mandate which declared all forms of human trafficking and beggary ( forced labour) as crimes a reality. After 63 years of the Constitution this horrendous organised crime- 3rd largest worth $15 billion , including commercial sex, child/ forced labour, begging, forced & child marriage organ trade, administering hormones to mature children for sex, surrogacy rackets exploiting women etc was defined responding to post- Nirbhaya nation-wide uproar, under the Criminal Law Amendments Act.

Yet the promise to safeguard the trafficking victims from exploitation- being recruited, transported, harboured and transferred under threats, coercion, fraud, deception through lurements and payments- could not be brought within the ambit of a legal framework.

The present Bill creates National Anti Trafficking Bureau besides State & Distt level Anti Trafficking Committees, Enforcement bodies and Funds. The existing legal mechanism of the Children's JJ Act etc have been dovetailed for care, protection, welfare & rehabilitation of children below 18, combined with legal, economic and social framework for adult survivors as well.

Search, forfeitures, pre & post rescue and elaborate preventive measures are combined with realtime protection and rehab mechanism and compensations. Trafficking and their aggravated forms that are well defined provide imprisonment from 10 years to life sentences.

The implementation of Social Legislations always pose the biggest legal and enforcementchallenges, but thousands of civil society organizations and millions of survivors supporting this Bill introduced by the determined MWCD Minister Maneka Gandhi and MPs cutting across political parties will make sure that this Bill is passed.

Amod Kanth
General Secretary
Prayas Juvenile Aid Society


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